Former County Executive Ike Leggett isn’t precisely breaking his pledge to stay out of local politics, he said. Instead, his efforts to get residents to vote against Ballot Questions B and D are due to “the nature of what we are facing in Montgomery County.”
Due to the devastating effects of COVID-19 and for the sake of the schools and residents, it is “a little bit of a challenge for me to simply set aside.” Leggett, along with former 8th District U.S. Rep. Connie Morella, are speaking out against two of the four local ballot questions.
Question B concerns property tax limits. It would prohibit the county council from going over the current cap at all, even with the unanimous consent of council. That means taxes could not be increased “one dime over the rate of inflation,” Leggett, who led the County from 2016-2018, said.
While that might sound like a good idea in normal times, these are not normal times, thanks to COVID-19, he said, adding it would be “simply foolish in my opinion” to hamstring the council during a health crisis.
He also opposes Question D, which would change the structure of the county council, eliminating all at-large seats. Under the current set up, there are five district members, who represent specific parts of the county, and four members who represent the county as a whole.
If Question D passes, there would be nine districts, each with one councilmember, and no at-large members. While some believe that will give an equal voice to all residents, no matter where they live in the county, Leggett disagrees.
“Think about a polluted stream that runs through two or three of the nine districts,” he said. “If spending dollars to clean it up is only supported by the councilmembers where the stream flows, it won’t pass. It needs the support of at-large members, who are supposed to consider the health and welfare of the county as a whole.”
“Do not throw the system out,” Leggett, 76, urges voters. “It could lead to vote trading” and would be very parochial.
MyMCMedia spoke with Leggett on Friday.